On a frigidly cold night in November 2015, Deanne Hastings vanished. Her disappearance would open a life struggling with bi-polar and leave a family with mysterious questions. What happened to Deanne Hastings?
In November 2015, Deanne Hastings, 35, vanished in Spokane, Washington. The mother of three, and a beauty school student, was engaged to get married before she disappeared. She seemed to have it all.
Deanne was born on February 27, 1980, in Pahrump, Nevada. Deanne was the second child and Carson was her older brother.
According to Trace Evidence Podcast, Carson said they had great parents and wonderful childhood. “We would go everyplace together, on picnics, hikes, and bike rides,” said Deanna’s mother Patricia. “We were always a team.” Friends described them as the typical All-American family.
Growing up. Deanna was a very compassionate child and always behaved very caring to others. But she also wasn’t afraid to pick up lizards and play in the dirt. Her mother describes her as amazing, bright, and fearless. Deanne excelled in school and was highly praised by her teachers.
While Pahrump offered the family a quiet place to raise children, when Deanne was in the fourth grade, her parents decided to move 1,200 miles north to Spokane, Washington. There, the children would have the opportunity to grow up in a more typical environment, with houses right across the street instead of a mile down the road.
Deanne thrived in her new home in Seattle, but things would take a turn for the worse when Deanne turned 15. Deanne’s brother was joining the Navy and preparing to move to Texas, and their parents were preparing to inform the kids they would be separating. Deanne took the news very hard. “After that, she really turned,” said Deanne’s mother Patricia. “It’s like something in her spirit broke.”
Deanne’s father moved out and Patricia and Deanne lived alone. While circumstances were not ideal, they did well and were very close. Patricia described Deanne as her best friend.
All that would change, however, when Deanne went to her mother at work and told her she was pregnant with a son she would name Hayden. The father of Hayden was a young man who went to school with Deanne and though they were young, they would be described as very good parents.
Deanne moved in with the father, and they spent the next nine years together but after a decade together they decided to separate. Deanne seemed to struggle with the separation due to her own parents splitting up. So, Deanne returned to live with her mother and shortly thereafter, she was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder that would quickly go out of control.
Patricia described her breakdowns as “episodes, “She would have periods where I almost didn’t recognize her and I was afraid of what was happening to her,” said Patricia. “Sometimes she could come back and she would be Deanne and be bright, and happy and lovely and then other times, most of the time, she would be very different and so it was like I had just lost my friend. I lost my daughter.”
Deanne would begin to disappear for days at a time. However, while she would be out of sight during these episodes, she always kept her phone with her and responded to texts.
Hoping things may get better, Deanne decided to move to Texas with her brother. There she thrived, even finishing school to become a nurse’s assistant. It was also in Texas she met her new love and she would end up marrying and having two more children.
But soon, Deanne’s episodes returned. The decision was made that Deanne and her children would return to Washington and live with her mother. And, it was in Washington where Deanne’s episodes would become worse than ever before. Eventually, she would check herself into in psychiatric center in Idaho. Always very proactive with her mental health, when she completed the program, she began thriving once again.
With life finally looking up, Deanne met Mike Tibbets, a successful HVAC technician who made a good living and could provide Deanne the opportunity to pursue her goals. They talked of marriage and she enrolled in cosmetology school at the Glen Dow Academy. Life had turned around once again.
November 3, 2015, Deanne was scheduled to begin her first day at the cosmetology school. “She was spunky, she was ready to go.” Mike Tibbets said. “She was happy. I mean she was getting ready, running around and excited.”
Mike worked late that evening and returned to find a note that Deanne had written telling him she had a great day and she was running to the store located just five miles away. Hours went by and he heard nothing, and Deanne wasn’t responding to texts. Mike decided to drive to the store to look for Deanne but when he arrived at the store it was closed. He began driving around searching for Deanne and suddenly realized he could use the phone’s GPS to locate her phone.
Mike found Deanne’s car parked in a public parking lot at 919 West Sprague Avenue, directly across the street from the Knitting Factory, a venue for local musicians and comedians.
The doors were locked, so Mike looked in through the windows but did not see anything that seemed out of the ordinary. Mike decided to call Deanne’s phone, assuming Deanne was close. His stomach turned when he heard her phone inside the car. He looked down and saw the light from the phone inside. Where could she be? Deanne never left to go anywhere without her phone.
Mike stayed and waited at Deanne’s car until daylight on November 4. At 8:00 a.m. he called the cosmetology school hoping she was there. The man on the phone explained she had not arrived for her second day of classes. Mike explained what was going on and the man on the phone offered to make missing person posters. He called several friends to help.
While canvassing the town, Mike received an alert from his credit card company that his card was being used at the Trading Company, a grocery about 15 miles southwest in Cheney. Instead of rushing to the grocery store, Mike staked out Deanne’s vehicle thinking she should be coming back since she went to the grocery store. This is a decision Mike would come to regret, and one of many that would raise the eyebrows of police.
After several hours of waiting, Mike finally decided to drive to the store where the credit card was used. He showed the flier around, but nobody recognized Diane. He decided to ask if he could see the surveillance video of the timeframe when the card was used but employees told him they needed the manager’s permission and would call him.
The following day, 36 hours after Deanne went missing, Mike contacted the Spokane Police Department and filed a missing person report. He explained that Deanne was bipolar and that she had a history of vanishing for days at a time, but this time was different. According to Trace Evidence, Mike would later say he felt the police were dismissive of Deanne’s disappearance after telling them about her psychiatric history.
Media Intervention Thinking there was a possibility that this may be one of her episodes, rather than concerning her family, Mike contacted the media instead.
Carson, Deanne’s brother found out because a friend called him and told him his sister was on the news. “I figured Deanne was having another manic episode,” said Carson. “That was my initial thought, and she would be back in a day or two.” However, when Patricia found out, it was different. Be it a sixth sense or something, Patricia knew something was not right. She reminded everyone that in the past, Deanne would “always” take her phone with her and stay in touch with someone.
Deanne’s last text was sent approximately 10:00 p.m. on the night she vanished. The text was to her son, 17-year old son Hayden, and said she had had a great day at school, and she hoped he was proud of her.
Drugged and Kidnapped
On November 6, the grocery store called Mike back and invited him in to view the surveillance video. Mike saw Deanne on camera at approximately 12:00 p.m. on November 4, acting erratically and waving her hands while continuously looking over her shoulder. Even more baffling was the items that Deanne bought that included four energy drinks, string cheese, birthday cake candles, cigarettes, and a bottle of vodka.
There were also eyewitness accounts. A nearby salon owner said Deanne walked in and seemed disoriented and addressed the woman as “Mommy,” and told the woman someone had drugged and kidnapped her.
The next sighting occurred only minutes later. Two women saw Deanne sitting nearby and offered to call her family for her and even to drive her home, however, Deanne was combative and refused. So, they called 911.
Spoke Police Department dispatched an officer and EMT’s who tried to treat her but found her belligerent. Again, she told them that someone had drugged and kidnapped her. Deanne ended up leaving and began walking toward a coffee shop and the officer let her go.
This infuriated the family. The Spokane officer would later tell the family that Spokane does not have a public intoxication law and had no reason to detain her.
On Sunday, November 7, Mike received a strange phone call from a man who he had shown Deanne’s flier to on November 4, at the grocery store. The man was an employee at the Trading Post and claimed he had spent time with Deanne the night she vanished. They arranged a meeting and Mike brought his sister along to meet with the man. The man explains he met Deanne outside the Knitting Factory and spoke to her and they smoked a cigarette together. He claims Deanne went home with him, but no sexual interaction occurred. The next morning, he claims he and Deanne drove to the store and he went inside to buy cigarettes but when he returned Deanne was gone.
Her car keys were inside the man’s car, so he gave them to Mike who went and picked up the car. Inside he found Deanne’s purse and wallet and noticed several credit cards missing. Later, police would become frustrated as Mike moving the vehicle removed any chance at finding any forensic evidence in or around the car where it had been parked. However, the frustration worked both ways as Mike did not feel the police took him seriously after divulging Deanne’s psychiatric history.
Shortly after the meeting with Mike, the man moved to Florida which many have found suspicious.
A detective would not begin investigating the case until Monday, November 8.
Detective Jeff Barrington of the Major Crime Unit at Spokane Police Department got the case. Barrington pulled Deanne’s phone records and pinged her phone activity but found nothing suspicious. He also monitored Deanne’s credit cards, a move that quickly paid off.
Deanne’s credit cards had been used November 7, and in the days following, at several locations in Spokane and Spokane Valley, primarily at grocery stores, pharmacies and convenience stores. Barrington viewed surveillance video and found a male individual, along with two other unknown individuals using Deanne’s credit cards.
Releasing the photographs to media quickly identified the man as Randy Riley. Barrington found out Riley had a minor criminal past and had recently been evicted from his home. The detective began his effort to locate Riley.
On November 28, Riley’s former landlord called the police and told Barrington that she had seen Deanne still with Riley and lying in the street. Another witness called saying she saw Deanne in the same area, seemingly disoriented and asked her if she was okay.
With these leads, Det. Barrington quickly found Riley hanging around outside a restaurant he frequented and questioned him.
According to Riley he and a friend, James, met Deanne near a storage unit and they hung out with her and drank. Riley told the detective Deanne “gave” him her credit cards and told him to go get himself something to eat. Riley said he had no knowledge of where Deanne could be but Barrington wasn’t satisfied.
Several weeks after Deanne’s disappearance, her driver’s license was found on the ground outside of Sonnenberg’s Deli in downtown Spokane.
On December 10, 2015, Riley was arrested on identity theft charges and brought in for an official interview about Deanne’s disappearance. This is when his story changed.
He claims that in the frigid cold of November, Deanne went up a hill to go to the bathroom and never came back down. Riley then tells investigators, the following day while he was moving his belongings from his former apartment he and James went back to spot where Deanne had been in the woods. He claimed they found her coat and shoes, so he picked up the items and found Deanne’s credit cards inside her coat. He also admitted being the one who threw Deanne’s license on the ground near the deli.
When questioned, James claimed that when Deanne went to relieve herself in the bushes, she didn’t return right away so he went to check on her, but she didn’t want to move from the spot. He told investigators Riley was up there for 10-15 minutes and came back alone and that he never saw Deanne again.
The location where the men showed investigators this all took place was only 300 yards from Deanne’s home.
Barrington organized a search to canvass the area on foot with cadaver dogs, also using a plane with heat sensors. Nothing was found.
At a dead-end, Detective Barrington began investigating Mike Tibbets. Mike claimed he and Deanne had no marital issues, however, this was contradicted by a text Deanne had sent a friend in October that said, “I want out. Honestly, Amanda, I’m 99% sure he drugged me the other night.”
Mike told investigators that Deanne had been agitated in the weeks preceding her disappearance and that she had accused the neighbors of drugging her water supply. He claims the mental health issues were probably due to a gap in her medication usage because she could not get her normal medication due to an insurance issue.
It seemed Barrington’s investigation was at a standstill.
A Cold Case
In January 2016, Deanne’s friend Amanda received a message from Riley’s friend James via Deanne’s Missing Facebook page. James claimed to be having a mental breakdown and was adamant he needed to speak to one of Deanne’s family members and he would tell them anything they needed to know. Carson and James spoke, and the call became confrontational and James hung up without telling Carson anything new. However, Carson believes he was going to confess to something but changed his mind of chickened out – something Carson may never know.
After that, the case has gone as cold as the night Deanne vanished.
Dealing with The Loss
The family has made public pleas for Deanne’s safe return and fear she met an unimaginable end while struggling to hold onto hope that she will one day call or walk through the front door. “Deanne was an amazing family member,” Carson said. “She cared more about others than she did herself.”
Carson speaks about Deanne in the past tense as he believes too much time has gone by to hold onto hope she is still alive.
Though Deanne had fallen off the grid before, her family agrees she would have never abandoned her children.
“Her son was getting ready to graduate high school and go into the military, she wouldn’t have missed that,” Mike Tibbets said. “I think about her every day.”
The family believes someone knows something and will be forever haunted wondering what James really had to say that day.
Anyone with information regarding the disappearance of Deanne Hastings, please call Spokane Police Department-Major Crimes Unit at 509-456-2233 or 509-242-TIPS (8477).
Gannon Stauch, 11, went missing from his home in Colorado Springs, Colorado, on Janury 27, 2020. More than two weeks after his disappearance the search has expanded to northern El Paso County and neighboring southern part of Douglas County.
The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office did not provide an explantion for the expanding the search so far north, which was originally focused over an hour away around the young boy’s neighborhood on the southeastern edge of Colorado Springs.
“We are running this investigation, the search piece of the investigation, and the investigative piece are running parallel with each other” said El Paso County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Jackie Kirby. “So, as we get tips and leads and information through our investigation that determines our search areas.”
Over 130 people including members of search and rescue teams and canines searched for Gannon on Wednesday, February 12. The search Thursday also included dogs and more than 80 people.
“It’s 35 acres, very different terrain. There are some treed areas, there’s very rough terrain. There’s terrain that goes down into deep ravines that would have to be gotten down to by rope,” said Kirby. “So again, very various terrain that they’re navigating here yesterday, today and we’ll see how long into the weekend this search out here will go.”
The sheriff’s office has received over 500 leads in the case.
Gannon was reported missing January 27, by his stepmother, Letecia “Tecia” Stauch, who said Gannon left to go to a friend’s house in the afternoon. Gannon had stayed home from Grand Mountain School that day. When he didn’t come home, Tecia said she called the sheriff and reported him as a runaway. In fact, when authorities first requested the public’s help to find him, they referred to him as a runaway instead of an endangered missing child.
Gannon’s father Albert Stauch is an active-duty Army National Guardsman and had been in training. He flew home from Oklahoma the same day.
Gannon’s biological mother Linden Hiott lives in South Carolina and also arrived in Colorado Springs to help search for her son.
Stepmother’s Statement to Media
On February 11, 2020, Gannon’s stepmother put out a public statement implying the boy had been abducted. In the statement she also reaffirmed that she last saw Gannon between 3:15 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. on January 27, heading to a friend’s home in their neighborhood.
“I encourage you to think of any suspicious cars that may have been in the area watching a few days prior and keep praying for G,” Letecia said in the statement.
Letecia also included a plea to Gannon to return home.
“To Gannon, please come home soon because your daddy is waiting to watch the new Sonic movie that comes out this week and the cool shirt I got you to wear to the theatre is in your closet, Letecia’s statement said.
Letecia also addressed the blast of social media the case has received. “Social Media has been devastating from the harsh comments, speculations, threats, cyberbullying, etc. It has been a challenge when people are trying to run you off the road, waiting outside your hotel, threatening to kill you, etc.,” the statement said.
Letecia also offered a timeline of activities she did with Gannon, beginning January 25, and went on to say she has shared the timeline and cell phone photographs with police as well.
“Saturday night, G was helping me unload in the garage and cut his foot because there are a lot of tools because Albert does woodworking,” the statement said. “He sat on the edge of the car and we bandaged it up. He was good to go.”
Letecia went on to say that afterwards she noticed Gannon kept going to the side of the house to see if the gate was locked as he had the only key.
Letecia claims she and Gannon hiked on January 26, and shopped together on January 27, the day he vanished.
With mounting pressure from media and police, Letecia claims she hired an attorney because the questions detectives were asking her were making her feel uncomfortable and she felt her constitutional rights were being violated.
“I took care of Gannon for the last two years, in our home, because his mother didn’t want to do it, and I would never, never, ever hurt this child,” Letecia told CBS 11.
Roderrick Drayton, a neighbor of the stepmom, said his surveillance video showed a female relative and Gannon get into a truck that Monday morning. When the woman returned about four hours later, only she got out of the truck and went inside, Drayton told the Denver Post.
Letecia has contested Grayton’s statements, claiming Gannon did come home with her that day and states she has proof.
“Please don’t think for a minute that there isn’t enough technology to determine shadows and movement around the truck. There was also proof from my phone that we had taken a selfie in the truck in our driveway that was time-stamped.,” Letecia wrote.
Police have asked Letecia to keep quiet about other details of the case.
In response to Letecia’s recent statement, Colorado police say they currently have no reason to believe the boy was abducted.
“Right now, there is no threat to the community as far as this case goes,” El Paso County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Sgt. Deborah Mynatt told People Magazine. “We don’t have those specifics to put out there [yet], and we haven’t done so. There’s reasons for that and we just can’t go into those details.”
In response to concerns from the public, police have been very closed mouthed about the case.
“We really want to stay on track and stay focused,” Sgt. Deborah Mynatt went on to say. “And I can understand the community’s concern with the lack of information being provided, but we hope that the community can trust that we’re doing that because we’re trying to ensure there’s no … potential of it being jeopardized.”
A Mother’s Plea
Linden Hiott, who has been staying at the home of Albert Stauch has made several public pleas for her son’s safe return and remains active in the public eye. Linden, Albert and Gannon’s little sister made a heartbreaking plea that was posted on the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office YouTube page.
“How would I describe my Gannon, my “G Man,” my hero. I love him so much,” Linden said in the video. “He’s full of life, he’s happy, he’s energetic, he loves sports, he loves Sonic, he loves going outside and playing with his friends, his sister, his neighbor, especially Braydon.”
Linden and Albert have been working cooperatively with the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office and says she is moved by the support she has received from the community.
“I don’t have answers for my feelings, other than I’m afraid,” Linden said. “I’m afraid that I’ll never hear his voice, that I’ll never hear him run and say, Mommy!”
At the end of the emotional four-minute video, Gannon’s little sister Laina said, “I love you brother.”
Anyone with information about the disappearance of Gannon Stauch, please call the El Paso Sheriff’s Office at 719-520-6666 or 719-390-5555.
The coronavirus has reportedly killed more than 1000 Chinese residents since the outbreak of a new coronavirus, restricting travel and forcing the quarantines. The Chinese government is under immense pressure to solve the crisis, and scientists are racing to find a way to contain the unnamed virus before it has global repercussions. In another disturbing, yet not altogether surprising, turn of events, persons who have been critical of the government’s handling of the virus outbreak are starting to disappear.
Many Chinese residents have taken to social media to
document how the virus is effecting their communities and how those communities
are effected by the government. Chen Qiushi is one of those citizens, a lawyer
who has been at the epicenter of the outbreak in Wuhan. He started posting
about the virus on January 25 after the Chinese government locked the city down
in order to contain the virus. Chen Qiushi’s remarks regarding the government
and its handling of the outbreak have been—in a word—critical, citing lack of
medical supplies, crowded hospitals, and accusing the Chinese government of
incompetence and suppressing freedom of speech in discourse regarding the
Chen Qiushi’s latest update was last Thursday, February 6,
and no one has heard from him since. In a recent tweet, Chen’s friend Xu
Xiaodong, stated that Chen has been “taken away to quarantine by force.” He
went on to say that Chen has not had access to his personal cell phone. This is
interesting, because Chen’s Twitter account still appears to be active despite
his disappearance. In a statement
released by the Human Rights Watch, they stated that friends and family have
applied for an audience to speak with Chen, but their queries have not been
Another Chinese “citizen journalist” has also gone missing,
just days after the disappearance of Chen Qiushi. Fang Bin, a Wuhan-based
businessman, has also been documenting the devastation in his community via social
media. He had reportedly dared the Chinese government to come seize him for his
comments regarding their handling of the virus on the same day that he posted a
12-second video of a paper that read “resist all citizens, hand the power of
the government back to the people.” Authorities used the fire brigade to break
down his door and arrest him.
In China, government focus appears to be split between
containing the spread of the virus, and controlling the narrative surrounding
the containment. Yaqui Wang, a Cinhese researcher for Human Rights Watch,
commented on the government’s repeated pattern of censoring or controlling
narratives that concern disasters or pandemics, “authorities are as equally, if
not more, concerned with silencing criticism as with containing the spread of
American watchdog organizations and lawmakers have called for the Chinese government to account for Chen Qiushi’s and Fang Bin’s whereabouts. Steven Butler, the program coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists stated, “Authorities in Wuhan must disclose whether they are holding journalist Chen Qiushi. If they are, then he should be released immediately. China does not seem to have learned the clear lesson that bottling up the truth about a spreading illness will only make matters worse.”
For the past two weeks, the true-crime world has had its eyes fixated on missing minors, Joshua “J.J.” Vallow and Tylee Ryan, and the mysterious string of deaths that preceded their disappearance. This case of missing children has already taken so many unexpected turns, leaving family, friends, and journalists alike wondering what disturbing new detail will emerge yet.
last confirmed sighting of J.J. was back in September of 2019, when his
mother, Lori Vallow pulled him out of public school, citing
a new job offer out of state that would require her to move her children as
well. It was not entirely unexpected, as Vallow also cited the recent death of
J.J.’s father as another reason why their family life remained in flux. What
she failed to mention was the fact that J.J.’s father, Charles Vallow, had been
murdered the previous July when her own brother, Alex Cox, shot Charles in
self-defense. She swiftly remarried a man named Chad Daybell, who had also
recently lost his spouse, Tammy Daybell. Both Charles Vallow and Tammy Daybell’s
deaths are currently being investigated as “suspicious” by respective law enforcement
agencies. Lori Vallow’s brother, Alex Cox, also died in the weeks following the
shooting death of her husband, but his cause of death has yet to be released.
This spinning vortex of death and loss was further
compounded by the noticeable absence of 17-year-old Tylee and 7-year-old J.J.
It wasn’t until one of their grandparents called authorities requesting a welfare
check that a missing persons investigation was launched. Lori Vallow and Chad
Daybell fled the area following the execution of the search warrant and were
finally tracked down in late January on the island of Kauai in Hawaii. Vallow
was instructed to produce her children by January 30th or face criminal
charges. January 30th came and went, and still no word from J.J. or
Now, additional warrants executed by authorities have revealed
another disturbing detail. According to the EastIdahoNews, investigators have discovered
a storage locker in Rexburg, Idaho listed in Lori Vallow’s name. The
storage locker contained items that law enforcement strongly believe belonged
to the two children, including photo albums, bicycles, scooters, and winter
Seventeen-year-old Tylee’s cell phone was also found in Lori Vallow’s possession when authorities finally tracked them down in Hawaii, without their missing children. Police were able to determine that the phone had been used several times since September when the children were last seen, though it is difficult to say by whom.
J.J.’s autism required the use of a service dog, primarily
for sleeping soundly through the night. A dog trainer based in Arizona has come
forward with startling information, “I was surprised and shocked when I got the
call from Lori that she needed to re-home the dog.” Her only explanation was
that her husband had recently passed and the family was moving to Idaho.
J.J. is described as a white male with brown hair and brown eyes, standing at 4′0″ and weighing 50 pounds. He also goes by J.J. and may be in need of medical attention. Tylee is described as a white female with blonde hair and blue eyes, standing at 5′0″ and weighing 160 pounds.
Anyone with information about the children is asked to call
Rexburg police at 208-359-3000 or report it to the National Center for Missing
and Exploited Children.
On New Year’s Eve, vandals defaced a billboard of KIMT anchorwoman Jodi Huisentruit, from Mason City, Iowa.
The billboard is among three in Mason City, that shows a picture of the beautiful Iowa news anchor, asking the question “Someone knows something, is it you?”
The cryptic words sprayed in bright yellow paint say, “Frank Stearns Machine Shed” across the bottom half of the billboard. Frank Stearns was a longtime detective with Mason City Police Department who diligently worked Jodi’s case. Now retired, Stearns is now a city death scene investigator.
In 2011, in a bizarre twist of events, the Globe Gazette reported that former Mason City police officer Maria Ohl accused two Mason City police officers and a retired Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) agent of being involved in the abduction and potential murder of Jodi.
Ohl, a ten-year veteran, said she received credible information from an informant in 2007, and again in 2009, who implicated Lt. Frank Stearns, Lt. Ron Vande Weerd and Bill Basler in the abduction. Ohl said she told her superiors but heard only crickets.
Ohl says she was terminated due to her handling of Jodi’s case information.
“It’s horrifically disturbing. They’re still working on the taxpayers’ dollar – the whistleblower was put on administrative leave and terminated.”
Joshua Benson, an evening anchor at an Orlando ABC affiliate who founded FindJodi.com, said Ohl had also confided in him but he could not find any information that would corroborate her claims.
In fact, at the time the complaint was filed, an official investigation also found no validity in Ohl’s claims.
Cold Case investigator Steve Ridge told KIMT that he knows how and when the billboard was vandalized. He says two individuals dressed in black parked in the rear alley behind a tattoo parlor and erected an aluminum ladder against the wall at 11:30 p.m. on New Year’s Eve.
While one held the ladder, the other spray-painted “Frank Stearns” in large letters and “Machine Shed” in smaller print below. Ridge said the parking lot of the nearby bar was full, as dozens of cars passed right below the billboard while the individuals were vandalizing it.
Ridge spoke to Frank Steans at his residence on January 3, 2020. His residence in a rural community does have a detached building on the premises, however, Stearns lived elsewhere in 1995. While the billboard vandals surely meant to dredge up old wounds and accusations, Stearns remains a respected member of the community and says he hopes they are found and punished.
Jodi, 27, vanished from the outside of her downtown apartment in Mason City on Tuesday, June 27, 1995. The day before, Jodi had played in the local Chamber of Commerce golf tournament. According to friend John Vansice, afterward, Jodi went to his house to view a videotape of a birthday celebration that he had set up for her earlier in the month.
Jodi went home and called a friend before going to bed. She usually left for work at 3:00 a.m. to anchor the morning show at KIMT. At approximately 4:00 a.m. KIMT producer Amy Kuns noticed that Jodi had not shown up to work. “I called her twice. I talked to her and woke her up the first time,” Kuns told WFLA news anchor Josh Benson. “The second time it just rang and rang. I don’t remember the times. I had obviously woken her up. She asked what time it was. I told her. She said she would be right in.”
Jodi was usually prompt and never missed work, so by 7:00 a.m. KIMT staff had called the Mason City Police Department to conduct a welfare check.
The Police Investigation
When police arrived at Jodi’s apartment, shortly after 7:00 a.m., her red Mazda Miata was in the parking lot. Officers found a pair of red women’s pumps, a bottle of hairspray, blower dryer and earrings, along with a bent car key, strewn around the car reflecting a struggle had taken place at the vehicle.
A search was conducted of Jodi’s apartment, the parking lot, and the nearby Winnebago River.
Early on, the then Mason City Police Chief Jack Schlieper said he suspected foul play. Investigators from the Iowa DCI and the Federal Bureau of Investigation would eventually join the search. It was later reported that investigators had lifted an unidentified palm print off her car.
By that Wednesday, as Jodi’s desk sat empty, police continued their extensive search for the young news anchor. Schlieper told reporters at a news conference that police and K-9 units were continuing to search along a two-mile area of the Winnebago River that runs through a park near Jodi’s apartment on North Kentucky Avenue.
Police did discover items of clothing along the riverbanks but at the time could not determine if they were Jodi’s.
Police confirmed that some residents heard noises that sounded like an animal or animal noises the morning Jodi vanished. We now know she screamed as she was dragged back down the center of the parking bumpers by her car, as her heel marks were left in the dirt on the pavement.
Neighbors also reported seeing a white van in the parking lot with its parking lights on that evening.
Eventually, there would be questions about whether the crime scene was correctly processed. In hindsight, the answer would be no. For instance, a friend of Jodi’s said police didn’t immediately tape off the crime scene which could have resulted in contamination or evidence being overlooked. In addition, Jodi’s car was released to her parents shortly after the disappearance instead of being kept as evidence.
Current Chief of Police Jeff Brinkley was asked by 48 Hours if he thought the car was released in haste. He replied, “Maybe.”
“We don’t have it,” Brinkley said. “But we just have to live with what we got, and –and try to do as good as we can with that.”
Brinkley is the fourth police chief to have Jodi’s case under his command.
“Basically, all my free time is following up on this case,” said Mason City Police Officer Terrance Prochaska, who took over the case in 2010.
“What caused her to sleep in that day? What caused her to answer the phone and rush to work? What was she doing the night before? We all want to know the fine details. We know where she was at. She was golfing. She had driven home and made a phone call to her friend. Those are facts. But it’s that gray area in between we don’t understand.”
Person of Interest
It is known after work; Jodi attended the gold tournament. While at the tournament, she told some of her friends that she had been receiving prank phone calls and was thinking of going to the police and changing her number.
Afterward, John Vansice, who was 22 years older than Jodi, was the last person to have seen her. They watched a video he had shot at the surprise birthday party he had arranged for her.
“She was like a daughter to me, she was like my own child,” Vansice said to KIMT in 1995. “I treated her like my own child.”
Though Vansice has long been suspected by friends of Jodi to have been involved in her abduction, a friend of Vansice named LaDonna Woodford says there is no way, because she had called him at 6:00 a.m. that morning wanting to go for a walk. When they walked, she says he didn’t seem anxious or out of sorts in any way.
Vansice also passed a polygraph in 1995 and never named an official suspect. However, in March 2017, search warrants were issued for the GPS records of Vansice’s 1999 Honda Civic and 2013 GMC 1500. It was the most substantial break in the case in decades. However, nothing of importance was ever recovered.
“We have never closed the case,” Chief Brinkley told 48 Hours. “It’s never been a closed case for us. It’s been an active investigation since it happened.”
“I’m not ready to quit yet,” Brinkley added.
JoAnn Nathe also told 48 Hours that she was once suspicious of John, but “we have to be objective; we have to have an open mind. It could be somebody we least expect.”
It has already been reported that Jodi had gone water skiing with John Vansice and a couple of friends the weekend before she vanished.
In Jodi’s June 25, 1995, entry in her journal she wrote, “Got home from a weekend trip to Iowa City — oh we had fun! It was wild, partying and water skiing. We skied at the Coralville Res. I’m improving on the skis — hips up, lean, etc. John’s son Trent gave me some great ski tip advice.”
In November 2019, Cold Case Investigator Steve Ridge revealed that Jodi also boarded the Mastercraft ski boat of two younger men she had met the same weekend.
Ridge told KWWL News that he spoke to witnesses who were at the lake that Saturday in 1995, who said Vansice was not enthused she had left to spend time with younger men, but he did not overreact or cause a scene, as some said Vansice was inclined to do.
Ridge said that once Jodi and a female friend boarded the boat, they were seen drinking and dancing on the boat. Ridge said the owner of the boat took a video of them which was given to Mason City Police investigators.
Ridge said he was still investigating whether one or both of the young men may have visited Jodi, or attempted to visit her the next day, or Monday, the night she was abducted.
Ridge believes it is conceivable that a confrontation could have occurred that would shed light on a motive for Jodi’s abduction. “A lot of unfortunate things came together in a relatively short period of time just before Jodi went missing,” claims Ridge.
Ridge continues to work with authorities though he is an independent investigator.
Jodi was born June 5, 1968, and raised in Long Prairie, Minnesota, a small town of less than 3,500 in 2010. She was the youngest daughter of Maurice Huisentruit and her mother Imogene “Jane” Anderson.
In high school, Jodi excelled at golf and was considered to have amazing talent at the game. Her team won the Class A tournament in 1985 and 1986.
After high school, Jodi went to St. Cloud University, where she studied speech and mass communications, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in 1990.
Though she wanted to be a reporter, after graduating, Jodi’s first job was with Northwest Airlines. She began her broadcasting career with KGAN in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, as the station’s bureau chief. She then returned to Minnesota for a job with KSAX in Alexandria before returning to Iowa for the position as a news anchor with KIMT.
“She wanted to be famous,” her childhood friend Kim Feist told 48 Hours.
Jodi was driven but she also was very close to her mom. In a late January 1994 diary entry, it said “improve my career, make more money, communicate, have more impact on a larger audience. Get the Huisentruit name out. Make Mom proud.”
“I couldn’t have had a better kid sister,” said Jodi’s sister JoAnn Nathe told WOWT in Omaha. “She tried to motivate me. What are your goals? That makes me stronger. It’s a nightmare not knowing where she is. We thought we would find her in the first few months.”
Their mother, Imogene, passed away in December 2014 at age 91, not knowing where her daughter was. “She so wanted to find Jodi,” Nathe said.
As time passes, it doesn’t get easier for families. Memories fade and tips wane, but the hope to bring Jodi home for a proper burial still burns bright in the hearts of those that loved her.